NASCAR welcomes a new market to the Cup Series on Sunday with the first Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter at World Wide Technology Raceway. The 1.25-mile oval, located outside St. Louis (Madison, Illinois), is the only racetrack added to the 2022 Cup schedule.
The 15th race of the year will also be one of the shortest, a 240 lap event expected to last well under three hours. It’s quite a contrast to the longest race in NASCAR history last weekend, the 619.5-mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway which took five hours and 13 minutes to finish under the green.
Related: Enjoy the Illinois 300 preview
This race produced some of the best competition we have seen on the intermediate ovals this season. That leaves big shoes to fill at Gateway, where drivers are extremely concerned about overtaking and track position after Friday practice. “Pit stops and restarts,” Chase Elliott said simply, “will be vital to whoever wins.”
Team Penske had the top three gears in this practice, but were unable to back that up in qualifying. Instead, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe took pole, the first in speed of his Cup career while Penske could do no better than second with Austin Cindric. All three manufacturers landed in the top five, continuing the parity we’ve seen throughout this 2022 season.
Two drivers had problems and failed to take qualifying time: Parker Kligerman saw his car catch fire during Friday practice while Ben Rhodes made contact with the outside wall. Rhodes was just replacing AJ Allmendinger in Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 Chevy; he will not drive the car on Sunday.
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Only the 36 chartered cars guaranteed a starting place entered in this race. None of the ‘open’ teams due to qualify on speed made the trip, leaving the field at four from a full 40-car grid.
1. Chase Briscoe
2. Austin Cindric (R)
3. Christopher Bell
4. Tyler Red Dick
6. Denny Hamlin
8. Aric Almirola
9. Harrison Burton (right)
10. Ross Chestnut
11. Kurt Busch
12. Kyle Busch
13. Martin Truex Jr.
14. Cole Custer
15. Kyle Larson
16. Chase Elliott
17. Michael McDowell
18. Bubba Wallace
19. Corey The Joy
20. Kevin Harvick
21. Erik Jones
22. Todd Gilliland (right)
23. Daniel Suarez
24. William Byron
25. Alex Bowman
26. Ty Dillon
27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
28. Justin Haley
29. Austin Dillon
30. Brad Keselowski
31. Cody Ware
32. Zane Smith (i)
33. Josh Bilicki (i)
34. BJ McLeod
35. Ben Rhodes (i)
36. Parker Kligermann (i)
(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to Collect Cup Series Points
- Chase Briscoe (first) won the first Cup Series speed pole of his career. He also started up front in Atlanta earlier this season when qualifying was halted.
- Austin Cindric (second) was the highest qualified rookie driver, driving a Ford for Team Penske.
- Christopher Bell (third) had the best speed among the six Toyota drivers in the field.
- Denny Hamlin (sixth) was last week’s winner (Coca-Cola 600).
- Harrison Burton (ninth) is only second in the top 10 of his Cup career.
- Chase Elliot (16)e) is the current points leader.
- Zane Smith (32)n/a) makes his Cup Series debut this weekend in place of Chris Buescher. Buescher is absent from this event for RFK Racing after testing positive for COVID-19.
- AJ Allmendinger (35e) had his car driven in practice and qualifying by NASCAR Truck Series regular Ben Rhodes while racing in Portland. Allmendinger replaces Noah Gragson, who raced last weekend in Charlotte.
- Parker Kligermann (36)e) replaces Ryan Preece at the wheel of the Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet. This is his first Cup start of the season.
Related: Best World Tech Race Track Drivers For DraftKings
Breakdown of NASCAR races
Race: Enjoy the Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter
Track: World Wide Technology Raceway (Madison, Ill.)
Date: Sunday June 5
TV: FS1, 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN Radio, SIRIUS XM NASCAR
Distance: 240 laps (300 miles)
Step 1: 45 rpm
2nd step : 95 rpm
Step 3: 100 rounds
Preview before the race
Frontstretch Podcast Host Bryan Nolen welcomes FOX NASCAR Xfinity play-by-play Adam Alexander to assess the 2022 season so far plus another new race this weekend as NXS takes on Portland International Raceway. Nolen and company then consider a race weekend at the brand new NASCAR Cup track to see which team might have an advantage.
Don’t forget the 2022 Racing magazine from Athlon Sports with 144 pages of racing content. Click here to get your copy or buy the digital edition for instant access.